D'Arcy McGee

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Thomas D'Arcy Etienne Hughes McGee, PC, (April 13, 1825 – April 7, 1868) was an Irish Nationalist, Catholic spokesman, journalist, and a Father of Canadian confederation. He fought for the development of Irish and Canadian national identities that would transcend their component groups. He is, to date, the only Canadian victim of political assassination at the federal level.


Early life

Widely known as D'Arcy McGee, he was born on 13 April 1825 in Carlingford, Ireland, and raised as a Roman Catholic. From his mother, the daughter of a Dublin bookseller, he learned the legends and lore of Ireland's heroic past, which later influenced his writing and political activity. When he was eight years old, his family moved to Wexford, where his father was employed by the coast guard. On the way his mother had an accident and died soon afterward. In Wexford he attended a local hedge school, where the teacher, Michael Donnelly, fed his hunger for knowledge and where he learned of the long history of English occupation and Irish rebellion, including the more recent uprising of 1798. It was in Wexford that he wrote his first poems and gained recognition as a talented public speaker. In 1842 at age 16 he sailed from Wexford harbour aboard the brig Leo, bound for the United States via Quebec, Canada. He soon found work as assistant editor of Patrick Donahoe's Boston Pilot, a Catholic newspaper in Boston, Massachusetts. A few years later he returned to Ireland where he became politically active and edited the nationalist newspaper The Nation. His support for and his involvement in the Irish Confederation and Young Irelander Rebellion of 1848 resulted in a warrant for his arrest. McGee escaped the country by steamship and returned to the United States.[1]

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